|Country Information & Lifestyle|
The Nature's Island
Dominica – Natures Island is uniquely natural, a rich tapestry of lush rain-forests, rivers and waterfalls with volcanic wonders on land and under the sea.
Dominica is the largest of the Windward Islands and is an island country in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean Sea, south-southeast of Guadalupe and northwest of Martinique. Its official name is the Commonwealth of Dominica to distinguish the island from its northerly Caribbean sister, the Dominican Republic.
Christopher Columbus named the island after the day of the week on which he spotted it, a Sunday, 3 November 1493.
In the hundred years after Columbus's landing, Dominica remained isolated. At the time it was inhabited by the island Caribs, or Kalinago people, and over time more settled there after being driven from surrounding islands, as European powers entered the region.
The people of Spain left the island due to isolation and the fierce Island Carib warriors that inhabited the island. France had a colony for several years, importing African slaves to work on its plantations. France formally ceded possession of Dominica to Great Britain in 1763. Great Britain established a small colony on the island in 1805.
Britain abolished slavery throughout the British Empire in 1834. By 1838, Dominica became the first British Caribbean colony to have a legislature controlled by an ethnic African majority. In 1896, the United Kingdom took governmental control of Dominica, turning it into a Crown colony. On 3 November 1978, Dominica became an independent nation.
Dominica has the largest remaining tribe of Carib Indians, also called Kalinago people, in the Caribbean, and a visit to this reserve, on the northeast coast, gives visitors a feel for their fascinating culture. Nestled amid banana and breadfruit trees, the village is a cluster of traditional wooden buildings.
Visitors can wander around the village and watch the Carib Indians carving dugout canoes, weaving baskets and mats, and sharing their knowledge of medicinal plants. The Caribs survive through fishing and agriculture as well as the crafts they sell to visitors.
Music and dance are important facets of Dominica's culture. The annual independence celebrations display a variety of traditional song and dance. Since 1997, there have also been weeks of Creole festivals, such as "Creole in the Park" and the World Creole Music Festival.
The people of Dominica invite you to share the beauty and tranquillity of Nature's Island, to discover the rich culture, experience enriching Eco-tourism, rugged coastline sheltering coastal villages and beautiful sandy beaches.
Framed by lush peaks, Roseau, the capital, is a colourful jumble of West Indian cottages, modern buildings and busy market stalls with a cool Rastafarian vibe. Near the dock, in the centre of town, the Old Market sells fresh tropical fruit, vegetables, herbs, baskets, and coconut-shell souvenirs. The blowing of a conch shell signals fresh fish for sale.
St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral, a 19th-century Gothic-Romanesque-style church, is one of the city's major landmarks. Other Roseau highlights include the Botanic Gardens and the compact Dominica Museum with its fascinating exhibits on the slave trade and Creole and Amerindian culture.
Pretty Papillote Tropical Gardens are a haven for artists, botanists, and photographers. Fed by a small stream, these 10-acre gardens form the grounds of a charming Eco-lodge, the Papillote Wilderness Retreat. Paths wind among bamboo trees, ginger blossoms, indigenous orchids, bromeliads, and begonias.
Morne Trois Pitons National Park, the 17,000 acre UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the jewel of Dominica. Encompassing much of the island's mountainous interior, the park is primordial rain-forest, ranging from thick jungle with giant ferns and wild orchids, to the stunted cloud forest on the upper slopes of Morne Trois Pitons.
Boiling Lake is one of the most popular attractions of the Park. An eerie-looking pool of bubbling grey-green water lies at the end of a strenuous, three-hour hike through thick forest.
Victoria Waterfall is one of the most impressive and photogenic waterfalls on the island. Formed by the White River cascading over a cliff into a warm pool below, minerals give the water a milky-white colour. The approximately 40-minute hike involves river crossings and boulder scrambling, but these spectacular falls are worth the effort. Hikers can relax at the end with a dip in the warm pool.
Trafalgar Falls, twin falls are one of Dominica's most famous sites. Known as Mother and Father, the falls lie at the end of an easy 20-minute hike through a forest of ginger plants and vanilla orchids. The cool main stream of Trafalgar Falls originates in the mountains and is joined near the bottom by a hot mineral spring. Visitors can take a dip in the hot and cold pools amid the sulphur-dyed rocks at the falls' base.
The mist-shrouded Boeri Lake, Middleham Falls, Titou Gorge, Emerald Pool, and the steaming Valley of Desolation, an area of boiling mud ponds, brightly-coloured hot springs, and mini-geysers.
In the Northwest of Dominica, near the town of Portsmouth, Cabrits National Park preserves lush rain-forest, swampland, black-sand beaches, and thriving coral reefs. This scenic peninsula boasts panoramic views from its highest point, and the reefs offer some excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities. Also found in the park are the remains of Fort Shirley, an 18th-century British garrison, as well as Cabrits Cruise-Ship Port and Terminal.
Dominica's most famous dive and snorkel site, Champagne Reef lies in a marine reserve off the country's southwest coast. Geothermal activity causes thousands of bubbles to emerge from beneath the rocks, a few feet from shore. Batfish, sea horses, barracuda, rays, squid, and trumpet fish are just some of the species found in the warm waters here.
The Caribbean Sea offshore of the island of Dominica is home to many cetaceans. Most notably a group of sperm whales live in this area year round. Other cetaceans commonly seen in the area include different species of dolphins, less commonly seen are killer whales,pygmy sperm whales and humpback whales.
Roseau is Dominica’s capital and also its main seaport. It is located on the southwest coast of the island at the foot of the Roseau Valley. From the heights of Dominica’s lush interior, the Roseau River runs through the town and eventually out to sea.
The central shopping, administrative and business district of Roseau is to the south of the river and the residential neighbourhoods of Pottersville, Goodwill and St Aroment are to the north. At the southern edge of the central district is the old French Quarter, where the original settlement was built.
For a capital, Roseau is very small and busy, habitually jammed with cars, people and buses. It is often noisy and nearly always hot. Roseau’s architecture is a blend of the old, the new and the ramshackle. Take your time, look up at the painted jalousie windows, the ornate fretwork verandas and the forest-covered mountainous backdrop.
Portsmouth is the second largest town in Dominica and lies on the Indian River on the northwest coast. Portsmouth was initially chosen as the capital of Dominica, but only served in that capacity in 1760. After malaria broke out there the same year, the capital was moved to Roseau.
Calibishie is a picturesque fishing village located on the north coast of the island, and thought by many to be the most scenic unspoiled region of Dominica. The Calibishie Coast is one of the few areas in the world where you can travel from the seashore to the rain forest in little more than a mile.
Calibishie is also home to Dominica’s best beaches. Lush, tropical and secluded, the palm-fringed beaches are truly part of what makes it so special. The area has palm-fringed beaches, freshwater rivers with secluded bathing pools, tumbling waterfalls and dense rain forest with exotic birds and lush vegetation.
Visitors may hike into the rain forest wilderness to catch a glimpse of the colourful Jaco parrot. Take a spin on a mountain bike or take to the sea for great snorkelling and world-class scuba diving.
Delices is a small village located in the south-east of the island, between La Plaine and Petite Savanne. Though not as developed as other parts of the island, its natural beauty and wonderful views attract many Eco tourists with the White River and Victoria Falls.
The village of Hampstead in north-eastern Dominica, along with Bense, and the hamlets of Anse de Mai and Anse Soldat, were used as a filming location for 2006's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
Petit Soufrière is a small village on the east coast upland from Petite Soufiere Bay. Located on the steep, rugged slopes of Morne Aux Delices at the end of the main road south from Castle Bruce, it is one of the most isolated villages in Dominica.
Historically, Petit Soufrière had never been part of a large estate because of the rough terrain, and instead developed as a peasant farming settlement. Today, it remains a small, rural community of farmers.
Scotts Head is predominantly a fishing village on the southwest coast overlooking Soufriere Bay which is protected as the Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Reserve. It is a popular diving & snorkelling area for tourists. The village shares its name with the Caribbean's only tied island, a small peninsula with a rising headland that extends westward from the village at Dominica's southwest tip.
Stock Farm, a northern suburb of Roseaut, contains the national prison of Dominica, the State College and a netball and basketball stadium. Woodbridge Bay and the main port of entry into Dominica lie off Stock Farm.
Thibaud, situated on the northern coast, is a fishing and farming village, near to Vieille Case, which was another filming location for Pirates of the Caribbean.
Wesley is a village in the north-east, situated between the old estates of Eden and Londonderry. Like many other villages along the east coast Wesley developed after Emancipation on hilly land along the boundary between the two estates as labourers sought to establish independent holdings for themselves away from the plantations where they had formerly lived and worked.
Dominica's cuisine is similar to many other Caribbean islands including that of Trinidad and St Lucia, but has distinct twists to their meals. Breakfast is an important meal and meals include cornmeal porridge which is made with the fine cornmeal or polenta, milk and condensed milk and sugar to sweeten. British influenced meals like eggs, bacon and toast are also popular, alongside fried fish and plantains.
Popular meals include rice and peas, stewed chicken, stewed beef, fried and stewed fish and many different types of hearty fish broth an soups which are packed full with dumplings, carrots and ground provisions.
Dominica's national dish is the mountain chicken, which are snares of the legs of a frog called the Crapaud, which is endemic to Dominica and Montserrat. Found at higher elevations, it's a protected species and can only be caught between autumn and February.
Roadside stands and small-town restaurants typically serve fried chicken, fish-and-chips and "tasty bakes" which are fried dough made with flour, water and sugar or sometimes salt, along with cold drinks. The island produces numerous exotic fruits, including bananas, coconuts, papayas, guavas, pineapples, and mangoes which can be eaten as dessert and be pureed or liquefied.
The people of Dominica welcome you to share the beauty and tranquillity of their gorgeous unspoiled island paradise. When you discover Dominica, you discover yourself and a Caribbean experience like no other.